Edinburgh has been the capital of Scotland for more than six centuries and aptly so. Set against a hill, the city is beautiful and deserves credit for being one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
The cost of living in Edinburgh, and Scotland in general, is cheaper than the rest of the UK. However, compared to anywhere else in the world, the cost of living in the UK is very high. As an expat evaluating cities before moving to the UK, Edinburgh is a very good option. Living costs in Edinburgh are high or everyone including students, expats, and locals
What is the cost of living in Edinburgh? Living in Edinburgh in is more expensive than living in most cities around the world. It is especially more expensive for foreign nationals. The cost of living in the city per month for a local is £1,100, for an expat is £2,350 and the cost of living for a family is £4,000.
The tax rate in Edinburgh is high when compared to other European countries but you will get excellent service for what you pay for. The social scene in Edinburgh will cost you a pretty penny but you will get the best whiskey in the world to soothe your sorrows.
Most residents in Edinburgh prefer to buy groceries in markets because it is much cheaper than eating at a restaurant in the city. Many Edinburgh residents walk or cycle instead of using personal cars or public transport. Read on and find out exactly what it costs to live in Edinburgh.
Monthly Living Costs in Edinburgh for a Family
The average monthly living costs of a four-person family in Edinburgh is about £4,000 a month.
The typical four-person family (parents plus two children) in Edinburgh will live in a three-bedroom apartment. A three-bedroom apartment in the city center will cost about £1,375 a month while one outside the city center will cost about £1,050 a month.
On the other hand, some families can decide to own their property and take out a mortgage. The average annual mortgage interest rate for a 20 year fixed rate in Edinburgh is 2.91%.
Utilities for a family of four including water, electricity, and ventilation are about £200 a month. Internet for the whole family will cost £30 a month and will also be a large part of entertainment expenditure.
Transport in Edinburgh
There are several options when it comes to transportation for a family in Edinburgh. Buying four bikes for the family is ideal but hardly the common case.
Most families will utilize transportation where they will pay an average of £3 a day for the bus, £10 a day for a tram and £5 for the train. The best option is to buy the monthly public transport pass which will cost £55 a month per person.
Given that a family with children would want to travel more securely, a personal vehicle is a great alternative. The average price of a four-door sedan in Edinburgh is £20,000.
Healthcare is incredibly important for a family with children. A local with a family in Edinburgh will typically access medical services through the NHS, the UK’s public healthcare system. The free public health care is a great reduction in the cost of living in the UK.
Not everyone qualifies for free public healthcare including an expat so they have to get private health insurance. Private healthcare providers in Edinburgh include Aviva, Axa, Bupa, and PruHealth. Your health care plan and the monthly premiums you pay will depend on a multitude of factors including age, health condition, work situation and habits among others.
Food and Groceries
The average grocery bill in Edinburgh for a family of four is £100 a week with a monthly bill of around £400. Most families in Edinburgh will cook their own food instead of eating out which they do occasionally.
When eating out, a family will typically buy a combo meal at a restaurant like McDonald’s which will cost around £20 for the whole family. However, a meal at a mid-range restaurant for a family can cost as much as £60.
School fees are a big expense for families in Edinburgh. The amount you pay in school fees will depend on your children’s level of education.
If your child is in Kindergarten or preschool, plan on paying at least £975 per month. To take your kid to an international primary school, you will have to fork over at least £15,250 every year. The cost of taking an undergraduate degree course at a university in Edinburgh is £8,500 to £11,000.
Monthly Living Costs for a Single Person in Edinburgh
A single person’s living costs in Edinburgh are £1,500 per month on average.
Housing Cost For Single Person
Rent in Edinburgh is not cheap. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center will cost about £770 a month in rent while one outside the city center will charge a monthly rent of about £600. A three-bedroom apartment in the city center will cost about £1,375 a month while one outside the city center will cost about £1,050 a month.
You will find good hostels in Edinburgh which will charge an average of £24 a night. Hotel rooms in the city cost between £40 and £80 a night.
You can get an Airbnb room in a private home for as low as £20 a night but a studio apartment will cost at least £250 a week.
Expect to pay no less than £136 per month for access to utilities like water, electricity and garbage collection. A good home internet connection in Edinburgh costs about £30 a month.
There are quite a number of financial firms in Edinburgh who can answer all your credit questions, and whether or not you can buy a house in the city.
There are three main modes of travel in Edinburgh namely train, bus and trams. All are managed by one authority and residents can buy a monthly pass for travel on any mode for £55 a month.
Train services in Edinburgh will connect you to other Scottish and UK cities as well. It is best to avoid Waverly train station during rush hour to pay the cheapest fares.
A single trip ticket for a tram in Edinburgh costs at least £5. Better to buy a ticket at the station because without one you might be charged double for travel.
A single bus journey in Edinburgh will set you back £1.50 unless you are traveling far. On bad days the fare can be as high as £3.50 for a single trip.
Food and groceries
The cheapest place to buy groceries in Edinburgh is at the farmer’s markets, for example, Stockbridge Farmers’ Market where you can be cheap food every Sunday. If you eat out in Edinburgh you should expect traditional Scottish food which is high in calories and often quite fatty.
For regular groceries, you can visit a supermarket in the city where you can get a liter of milk for under a pound, 12 eggs for about £2.50, a bottle of wine for £6-8 and a kilo of apples for £2.30.
Eating or drinking out in Edinburgh is very expensive. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant will cost you no less than £13 while a three-course meal for two will set you back £55.
Entertainment is a large expense for most single people in Edinburgh. The entertainment scene in Edinburgh is exciting and varied. You can go to the cinema and catch an international movie release for £10. If you like to frequent the pub, you should expect to pay £3-4 for a pint of beer and £2.50-3 for a glass of wine.
A ticket to a festival in Edinburgh will often cost around £20 but you can buy resold tickets online for less. You can also go to a museum and pay a £10 entrance fee if you prefer.
Monthly Living Costs in Edinburgh for Students and International Students
The largest expense for most students in Edinburgh is housing for which they pay an average of £425 per month. There are basically three options for student housing namely private halls, university halls of residence and private housing.
As far as private halls are concerned, a standard room in a private hall costs £120 to £160 a week, an ensuite room in a private hall costs £160 to £190 a week and a studio apartment will set you back £190 to £335 a week.
Pertaining to University halls of residence, a standard room will cost £3,500 to £6,400 for a 38-week lease. Twin rooms are available for £2,500 for the same lease.
Individual private housing for students in Edinburgh costs £650 to £900 a month whereas shared private housing will cost about £225 a month.
Most students in Edinburgh either walk or cycle to school both of which are free except for the £50 you may have to spend initially on a bike.
As stated earlier, a single trip bus fare is about £1.50 so a trip to and from school will cost £3 a day. The same goes for trams. However, as a student, you can invest in a Student Ridacard where your total transport cost will be reduced to £4 a day.
You can also buy a PlusBus which is a discounted bus pass you get on your train ticket. For train travel, students should buy a Railcard for £30 a year which saves a lot of money.
Food and Groceries
Students in Edinburgh prefer to buy groceries and cook their own food for the obvious cost-saving advantages. According to NatWest’s Student Living Index of 2018, students in Edinburgh spend an average of £76.30 per month on groceries.
Students can order food to their specific accommodation premises but they should expect to pay a £2.50 delivery fee plus a tip.
If you are willing to spend £15 a meal eating out in Edinburgh as a student then go ahead. A three-course meal will cost you at least £50.
The amount you pay in tuition for your degree program will depend on the university you attend. However, as far as educational equipment and material are concerned, there are great deals for students in Edinburgh.
The student Travelcard allows them to travel for as low as £20 a month. There is the TOTUM Card which allows students to get great discounts across university essentials such as books for £12 a year.
You will also find great student insurance deals for as low as £15 a month.
Edinburgh is a city with a large student population who like socializing which largely includes partying. Students have their pick of music venues, nightclubs, pubs and student bars to choose from.
Students can expect to pay a £5 entry fee at most night clubs and buy a pint of beer for £4.
A gym is also a great place for students to socialize for a measly £9.99 a month. Special fun classes at the universities like tapestry and dancing cost between £6-20.
Average Monthly Costs of Living in Edinburgh – Apartments
Living in Bruntsfield / Morningside
Morningside is a leafy suburb and one of the more expensive places to live in Edinburgh. Morningside is just beyond Bruntsfield but their proximity and similarity mean that the real estate is equally priced and they can be considered as one neighborhood. This area is a friendly place full of cafes, pubs, restaurants, and shops.
The area has great parks for picnicking and sunbathing. The architecture of the buildings is stunning and quite different from the medieval architecture that characterizes most of Edinburgh. Living in the Bruntsfield /Morningside area is calm and relaxing and can be best characterized as peaceful.
Living in Haymarket / Dalry
Haymarket and Dalry are neighborhoods that are close to the city center in the West End of the city. Dalry is almost purely residential while |Haymarket is an equal blend of residential and commercial properties.
You will find great restaurants in both areas where you can sit for a sumptuous meal or get amazing takeaway. There are sorts of traditional cuisine restaurants including Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian and Italian restaurants.
There are many traditional Edinburgh bars in Haymarket and Dalry, you will be spoilt for choice. Cinemas, bowling alleys, and casinos are alternative entertainment spots in the area.
Apartments in Haymarket and Dalry offer better value for money than apartments in the city canter. You will also find numerous B&Bs, hotels and guest houses.
Living in Leith
Leith is Edinburgh’s port town and is located in the North of the city. Leith is home to some of the fanciest restaurants, bars and shopping malls in Edinburgh.
The quality of restaurants in Leith will blow your mind. They have the best Scottish cuisine in the city. The restaurants also have great service and are given great reviews.
There are big hostels, guest houses, and apartments in Leith. The residential areas are also well connected to public transportation.
Leith also has the largest shopping mall in Edinburgh, the Ocean Terminal. You can opt to shop at the numerous independent shops in the area.
The monthly cost for an internet provider
There are dozens of internet providers in Edinburgh. The average cost of the internet with a speed of at least 60 Mbps is £30 a month. You have to sign a contract to get internet in Edinburgh.
The contract you decide to sign should be the best value for money while providing you with the best service. Points to consider before choosing an internet provider include personal use of internet services.
How often you use the internet is a crucial factor in choosing an internet provider. Another point of consideration is the fee. Choose the internet plan that most aptly fits your budget.
The last point to consider is coverage. You should be able to enjoy the services from your internet provider wherever you are in Edinburgh. It is better to choose the provider with the largest range of coverage.
It is hard to find a broadband service that perfectly suits your needs. Therefore, you should choose the broadband provider that is the most cost-effective and gives you the best service.
It can be difficult to choose standalone broadband services in the UK. Most services are offered alongside TV and cell service contracts. If a combined package offers better value than a standalone service, you should choose it. It depends on how often you use the internet services.
The three best internet provision deals in Edinburgh are as follows:
|63 Mbps||12 months||£0||£30|
|Sky||59 Mbps||18 months||£9.95||£27|
|Talk Talk||38 Mbps||18 months||£0||£24|
The monthly cost for a mobile phone provider
Mobile service providers in Edinburgh are quite plentiful. There are dozens of cell service providers that you can compare to get the best deal. There are so many amazing deals in Edinburgh, it will be difficult to choose one for you to use.
The five main cell service providers in the UK are Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile, Orange and 3. You can also get virtual mobile providers in the UK. These are companies that buy air time from the providers above and then offer their own services. Such companies include Virgin and One. Tel.
The UK has an incredibly high mobile penetration rate meaning that almost all citizens in the UK own a mobile phone. You can choose a contract cell service or pay as you go service often known as prepaid plans. Each has its own merits and downfalls but both can be equally confusing. Scrutinize the prepaid plan or service contract as diligently as you can and choose the service you understand best.
The choice of provider will ultimately come down to a matter of personal taste and preference.
The UK uses the GSM 900/1800 network. The network is compatible with the rest of Europe, Australia and New Zealand meaning you can use your mobile phone in those countries. You should ensure that your cell service has 4G coverage.
The extent of the coverage is also important and you should check the service’s coverage before signing the contract. The best mobile service providers in Edinburgh are as follows:
|Sky Mobile||Unlimited||8 GB||£42||24 months|
|3 Network||Unlimited||100 GB||£31||24 months|
|O2||Unlimited||60 GB||£45||24 months|
The monthly cost for health insurance
Public health care in the UK, including Edinburgh, is free for all UK citizens and is provided by the NHS and HSC. The health services are paid for from revenues from taxation. Although public health care is the main avenue through which residents of Edinburgh access medical services, there are still numerous private and alternative health care options for citizens if they are willing to pay.
According to Active Quote, the average premiums for private health care in the UK are £1,435 per year. The premiums will be higher or lower depending on your health risk factor. Dental health care is usually priced separately from other medical services.
The monthly cost for groceries
The monthly expenditure on food and groceries in Edinburgh varies widely. The groceries will depend on several factors. One of the factors is where you buy groceries. Buying groceries at discount stores or at the farmer’s market is cheaper than buying groceries at a supermarket.
|1 L of milk||£0.90|
|500g loaf of bread||£0.93|
|Pack of 12 eggs||£1.96|
|1 kg of local cheese||£5.84|
|1 kg of back leg red meat||£7.58|
|1kg of apples||£1.69|
|1 kg of rice||£1.13|
|1.5 litre bottle of water||£0.92|
|1 kg of potatoes||£1.54|
|1 head of lettuce||£0.65|
The monthly cost for eating out
Eating out in Edinburgh will cost you more than in most cities around the world. The prices will astound you especially if you are a foreign national new to Edinburgh. Good news is that there are cheaper options for those who cannot afford eating out every night.
|Meal at an inexpensive restaurant||£13|
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant||£55|
|McMeal at McDonald’s or an equivalent combo meal||£5|
|1 ticket to the cinema for an international movie release||£10|
|Basic lunchtime meal including a drink||£10|
|Basic dinner for two at the neighborhood pub||£35|
|1 cocktail at a club downtown||£8|
|1 month of gym membership||£40|
The monthly cost of public transport
The monthly cost of public transport in Edinburgh will depend on the mode of transport that the individual prefers. The regular price of a monthly public transport pass in Edinburgh is £55. The pass will cover trams, buses, and trains.
There are discount prices for paying yearly fees for public transport. Special deals also exist for students and special circumstances such as disabled people. The most expensive mode of public transport in Scotland is the taxis which charge an average of £1.95 per mile.
Living costs in Edinburgh vs London
The overall cost of living in Edinburgh is 33% cheaper than the cost of living in London.
The price of food in London and in Edinburgh is very similar. There are minuscule differences in the prices of groceries except for a few odd items. There is little to separate meals sold in similar restaurants, for example, McDonald’s.
The price of a meal in an upscale restaurant in London is slightly higher than the price of food in a similar establishment in Edinburgh. Eating out in either city is more expensive than in most other European cities and cities around the world.
The price of drinks including water, beer and Coca-Cola are about equal. However, domestic beer is more expensive in London than in Edinburgh.
The major difference in living costs between Edinburgh and London is brought about by differences in housing costs. To be exact, housing in Edinburgh is 44% cheaper than housing in London.
The monthly rent of a 900 sq.ft in London is double the rent for the same size apartment in Edinburgh. The difference is the same regardless of whether it is an expensive area or a normal area.
Utilities like water, electricity and ventilation, internet and cleaning services are also more expensive in London than in Edinburgh.
Transport in Edinburgh is 46% cheaper in Edinburgh than it is in London. Private transport is almost equally priced in the two cities with only minuscule differences in vehicle prices, taxi rates and the price of a liter of petroleum.
The large difference occurs when it comes to public transportation. It costs almost triple to use public transportation in London than in Edinburgh.
Entertainment in Edinburgh is 19% cheaper than entertainment in London. A pint of beer and a pack of cigarettes cost about the same in both cities.
Mobile services, gym memberships and dinner at fancy restaurants all cost more in London than in Edinburgh. Tickets to the theatre are also way more expensive in London than in Edinburgh.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.